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Dow Jones News: Microsoft Shows Cloud Strength; McDonald's Takes Sales and Profit Hit

By Timothy Green – Apr 30, 2020 at 12:35PM

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Microsoft reported strong growth in many of its businesses, and McDonald's struggled with slumping sales around the world.

Another rough jobs report sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -1.15%) down 1.76% by 12:35 p.m. EDT Thursday. The Labor Department reported initial jobless claims of 3.84 million for the week ended April 25, bringing the six-week total to more than 30 million.

Shares of Microsoft (MSFT -0.97%) managed to avoid a steep decline after the company reported solid quarterly results buoyed by strength in the cloud. McDonald's (MCD -1.81%) stock wasn't so lucky after the restaurant chain reported comparable sales declines.

Microsoft sees little pandemic impact so far

Software and cloud computing giant Microsoft easily beat analyst expectations for its fiscal third-quarter results. Total revenue jumped 15% to $35 billion, ahead of estimates by more than $1.3 billion. Non-GAAP (adjusted) earnings per share came in at $1.40, up 23% year over year and $0.13 higher than analysts were expecting.

A Microsoft Surface device.

Image source: Microsoft.

The increase in work-from-home helped Microsoft during the quarter, with soaring usage of the company's various cloud services. Sales of Surface devices also benefited, although supply constraints put a lid on growth.

Office 365 commercial revenue was up 25%; Dynamics 365 revenue was up 47%; and Azure revenue was up 59%. On the consumer side, Office Consumer products and cloud services revenue jumped 15%, while Surface revenue rose by 1%.

The pandemic did hurt some businesses, as CFO Amy Hood explained during the earnings call:

We saw a slowdown in our transactional business across segments, but particularly in small and medium businesses. In Enterprise Services, growth rates slowed as consulting projects were delayed. And on annual contracts in LinkedIn's Talent Solutions business, renewals were impacted by the weak job market.

For the fourth fiscal quarter, Microsoft expects revenue between $11.65 billion and $11.95 billion in its productivity and business processes segment, revenue between $12.9 billion and $13.15 billion in its intelligent cloud segment, and revenue between $11.3 billion and $11.7 billion in its more personal computing segment. In aggregate, Microsoft's revenue guidance was in line with analyst expectations.

While most of Microsoft's divisions are holding up well amid the pandemic, a severe recession in the U.S. could reduce demand in the coming quarters. Shares of Microsoft were down slightly by early afternoon, as the earnings beat wasn't enough to propel the stock higher.

McDonald's reports sales decline

Fast-food chain McDonald's is doing better than many other restaurant chains, but sales still plunged in March. Globally, the company reported a 22.2% decline in comparable sales for last month, and a 3.4% decline for the first quarter.

Total first-quarter revenue was $4.71 billion, down 6% year over year but about $50 million higher than analysts were expecting. Earnings per share came in at $1.47, down 15% and $0.09 below the average analyst estimate. As of April 30, 99% of U.S. restaurants and 75% of global restaurants were operating, albeit with restrictions.

April is so far looking even worse than March. In international operating markets, comparable sales are down around 70% in April, compared to down 35% in March. In the United States, comparable sales in April are expected to be down roughly 20%, compared to down 13% in March.

As sales tumble, McDonald's has been helping its franchisees. During the earnings call, CFO Kevin Ozan explained some steps the company has taken: "Generally, we've deferred the collection of rents and royalties earned in March and April in most markets around the world. ... This deferral amounts to roughly $1 billion of liquidity assistance that we committed to our franchisees and developmental licensee partners across the system."

McDonald's sales trends should start to improve as restrictions are loosened over the coming weeks and months, although it's difficult to predict how eager consumers will be to return to their pre-pandemic routines. Shares of McDonald's were down about 2.4% by early afternoon.

Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Timothy Green has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Microsoft and recommends the following options: long January 2021 $85 calls on Microsoft and short January 2021 $115 calls on Microsoft. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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